Title: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Author: Robert D. Putnam
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (March 29, 2016)
Date of publication: March 29, 2016
Number of Pages: 400
Author Robert D. Putman in his book, ‘Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’ analyses how the American society has changed over the years. The author illustrates examples of students in the 1950s and the 1960s. He compares them to the students of today’s generation.
Is the American Dream in Crisis?
Robert Putman says that the American Dream is a society in which the children receive better than their parents did. The children are expected to earn more, be happier and more educated and so on. Robert D. Putnam’s book, ‘Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’ shows how different the reality is from that idea.
The author talks about the children in Port Clinton around 1959. He discusses different students and how they fared in life after passing high-school. Some students moved up the social ladder in life. While there were others who remained socially stagnant or fell in social stature.
Robert D. Putman explains how the social structure in the 1950s and 1960s was considerably flexible. The author gives a compelling example when Frank’s grandfather tells him how he should behave socially. “If you’re in Port Clinton with a group of boys who can afford a Coke, that’s what you are to order…”
Frank lived by his grandfather’s words. He grew up with the children in his neighbourhood and interacted with them irrespective of their socio-economic status. The author further mentions a fall in acceptance in the present times.
Robert D. Putman mentions social inequality as the major reason why the American Dream is in crisis. He says that initially, the divide was not as formidable. The children were exposed to different lifestyles through their friends and classmates. Even a poor child usually had a richer friend to learn new skills from. Parents instilled the value of higher education even though they were themselves school drop-outs. Sadly, the poor today have limited and even fewer resources to push their children for higher education.
According to the book, the rich today, provide their children with best career counselling while the poor don’t know who they should consult. Robert Putman has argued to change some of the educational policies to provide equal importance to rich and the poor kids.
Putman feels it is imperative for the policymakers to acknowledge the structural basis of individual problems. That will bring about a change in the existing policies to realise the American Dream of a stronger and better new generation.
‘Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’ does not enlist different approaches to tackling the issue of providing better opportunities to the poorer sect of the society. The book raises this vital question through examples and interesting story telling. None the less, the book falls short in giving diversified solutions to this social problem.
The book is aligned with the thoughts of C.W Mills. C.W Mills studied ‘sociological perspective of social problems’ and ‘understanding and changing the social world’.
Understanding Robert D. Putman’s ‘Our Kids: The American Crisis’ will force the readers to appreciate that the book is not only about the American society. Even in other countries, the standard of education has diminished from the previous decades. The socio-economic changes and the advancement of digital media have taken a toll on the quality of education. The book will get you thinking
For his thorough research and the insightful writing, we at WeLoveQualityBooks give
Robert D. Putman’s ‘Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’, 4 stars.